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Archive for the 'Branding' Category

8 ways to stand out in a crowded niche

June 26th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Subscriber HC writes:

“I am an aspiring entrepreneur and would appreciate information
on best practices when it comes to positioning correctly in a
niche market.”

A decade ago, being in a niche market WAS your positioning. But
today, many niches are becoming so crowded, HC is correct in that
it’s smart to position yourself within the niche.

And here are a few suggestions on how to do it:

1–Acquire specialized education or training.

There are more and more writers in the science and technology

My colleague AD has a huge advantage over them because of his PhD
in chemistry.

I have a smaller but still significant advantage because of my BS
in chemical engineering.

2–Gain specialized experience on the job.

My friend EG and I graduated from the University of Rochester
together in the late 70s.

A few years later he was involved in a major SAP implementation
for a large corporation.

Soon after that, he became an in-demand consultant in the SAP
niche who could write his own ticket.

3–Narrow your position in your niche.

For instance, there are a lot of health care ad agencies.

But KS specialized by focusing just on advertising for

Similarly, my old high school friend GG became a practice
management consultant for optometrists only after a career as a
successful eye doctor.

4–Position yourself as a top expert.

My friend, the late HGL, positioned himself as a top direct
response copywriter by being an amazingly prolific producer of
articles, books, and talks on his top (direct marketing).

5–Create a distinctive or outrageous brand for yourself.

Example: Publisher and entrepreneur ML made outrageous TV
commercials in which he wore a jacket covered with bright
questions marks, similar to the Riddler.

6–Invent your own niche.

Author MH created his own niche by writing a book on it:

SG did likewise with “permission marketing.”

7–Be humble, honest, and deliver top quality at fair prices.

In certain niches, there are so many hucksters, you can stand out
simply by not being one of them.

8–Go technical.

If there is an area in your niche that is technical and a bit
difficult to master, study and master it.

For instance, there are more online marketing gurus than you can
shake a stick at.

But my colleague PM differentiated himself by specializing in
Google AdWords and becoming a top expert in pay-per-click (PPC)

He is an engineer and told me he picked PPC as his niche
precisely because most other people found it a little too
daunting and technical.

Are there other ways to position yourself for maximum visibility
and success in your niche you think I missed?


Category: Branding, Success | 786 Comments »

Corona Light’s USP

May 25th, 2007 by Bob Bly

I just heard a radio commercial for Corona Light beer, and the unique selling proposition (USP) was clearly articulated: “It’s the only light beer that’s also a Corona.”

My instant reaction was favorable because:

1. The tone implies that “of course, you know that Corona is a great beer” — and therefore, Corona Light must be the best light beer, because it is the only light beer with Corona quality.

2. It is unassailable — no other brewer can say, “Our light beer is also like a Corona.”

What do YOU think of Corona Light’s USP, “the only light beer that’s also a Corona” — good, bad, or terrible? And why?


Category: Branding, General | 149 Comments »

The Great Madison Avenue Branding Rip-Off

November 17th, 2005 by Bob Bly

Is Madison Avenue ripping off its clients?

Yes, according to my friend Richard Armstrong, one of the top freelance copywriters working today.

His premise is that the ad world?s emphasis on branding is misguided ? and that branding is only one of many factors (and not the most important factor) in selling.

But let Rich explain?.

?I’ve always said that you could fire a high-powered rifle down the middle of Madison Avenue at high-noon on a weekday and not be in danger of hitting anyone who’d ever read a single book about advertising. There is just very little in the way of what I’d call ?technical expertise’ in the world of general advertising.

?But because it’s impossible to survive in business on bullshit alone, a lot of these guys have focused on ?branding? as the alpha and omega of marketing.

?Get three Madison Avenue types in a room and it’s ?branding? this and ?branding? that. But it’s ridiculous.

?Look, I believe in branding. I’m sure you do, too. But to me, it’s just one of MANY credibility factors that go into an advertisement.

?If the product comes from a company that people know and trust, great ? go ahead and make use of that in your ad. But you CAN?T build your whole marketing campaign around it.?

The conclusion: branding is just one of many CREDIBILITY factors in marketing ? and credibility is just one of multiple factors in selling ? so to devote your advertising to building the brand is to do something like 1/10th of the selling job it should be doing.

Do you agree? If so, is Madison Avenue conning or misleading its clients on a massive sale?

Or is branding indeed the holy grail of marketing? And are Richard and I just out of touch with this great truth?


Category: Branding | 291 Comments »

Direct Marketing vs. Branding: Round 2

July 1st, 2005 by Bob Bly

In my last post, several branding types argued that direct marketers should listen more to branding folks and follow their lead.

May I humbly suggest that maybe it should be the other way around ? because we direct marketers know how to sell ? and branding types don?t?

A case in point: General Motors.

You know all the trouble GM has been in lately; it?s made front page headlines for weeks.

But according to an article in The Week (7/1/05, p. 38), GM?s new marketing campaign is turning things around for the company ? raising market share from 25.8% to over 30%.

Did they do this by leveraging the power of the GM brand, built with decades of expensive branding type advertising?


They did it, like a direct marketer, with an OFFER ? an “employee’s discount offer” … giving car buyers the same discounted prices that GM employees receive.

And that?s why I?m a direct marketer and not a branding guy.


Category: Branding, Direct Marketing | 169 Comments »

Should Direct Marketers Worry About Branding?

June 27th, 2005 by Bob Bly

Yes, says Steve Cuno, chairman of something called RESPONSE Prospecting and Loyalty Strategies, in an article in Deliver (7/05).

?As a direct marketing, you?re hired to pull a profitable, measurable response, not to build the brand,? says Steve.

Well, at least he?s got that part right.

But then he goes on, ?But if you don?t recognize the impact your work has on the brand, and, perhaps more important, that the brand SHOULD have on your work, you?re being na?ve, and you will lose sales in the long run.?

Sorry, Steve, but that?s where you?re dead wrong.

As a direct response copywriter, your responsibility is one thing and one thing only: to maximize ROI from every promotion you write.

Direct response isn?t a branding tool. People barely remember million-dollar TV campaigns. Trust me that they forget 99.99% of your mail the minute they toss it.

And whenever you subordinate ROI to worrying about ?the impact your work has on the brand? ? or anything else ? you are compromising the ability of your promotion to maximize response.

When I sit down to write a letter, I think of only one thing: what true, ethical, and legal thing can I say that will get my prospect to buy this product?

And not, ?How can I create a good image? or ?How does this build the brand??

I have been doing it that way for 25 years ? with pretty good results.

So I think I?m right and Steve?s all wet.

What?s your opinion?


Category: Branding, Direct Marketing | 171 Comments »

Niche Branding: A Bunch of (Red) Bull?

March 4th, 2005 by Bob Bly

I?m an advocate of niche marketing ? but this may be taking it too far.

According to an article in BusinessWeek (3/14/05, p. 14), companies in the ?energy drink? market ? highly caffeinated beverages selling for $2 a can ? are competing with Red Bull, which owns a 60% market share, by appealing to niches.

But the idea of an ?energy drink? for some of these niches seems — to me, anyway — to be an oxymoron.

For instance, a drink called BAWLS Gurana targets video game players. Well, my kids play these video games for hours on an end. And I can tell you that very little physical energy is required.

Then there?s Bong Water, aimed at marijuana smokers. How much energy does it take to sit around, smoke weed, and get stoned?

A third beverage, Kaballah Energy Drink, targets Jewish mysticism. I?m Jewish ? but why either Jews or mystics need their own energy drink is way beyond me.

I know nothing about branding. So let me ask you branding folks out there:

Isn?t a brand supposed to make a logical connection with the beliefs, desires, and character of the market it targets?

Or is that totally irrelevant in today?s brave new world of hip and trendy marketing?


Category: Branding | 132 Comments »

The Death of Branding Online?

November 24th, 2004 by Bob Bly

I know a lot of the brightest marketing minds in the world, and Don Libey is certainly one of the top five, in my humble opinion.

So, not being a big branding guy myself, I enjoyed the latest issue of Don?s ?Secrets of the Catalog Master? bulletin, published by list broker Merit Direct.

In it, he basically says that branding is dead or dying on the Internet, being replaced by (what else?) ROI-producing direct marketing ? driven by Google.

Don says, ?Buying is no longer a matter of who [the brand or reputation of the seller] ? Shopping is a matter of word description. In other words, I will no longer associate buying pears with Harry & David.

?Instead, I will associate buying pears with the words ?pear? or ?fruit? or ?gourmet pears? or any of 58 other words or word combinations.?

He also credits E-bay with diminishing the important of online merchant reputation — as millions of people are sending money to other people they?ve never heard of and have no reason to trust simply because these sellers have a five-star rating on E-bay.

Don calls this kind of buying ?thought-activated word shopping? and says it is replacing branding in importance for consumers.

I imagine you branding folks out there are cringing, and you search engine optimization guys are cheering. I?m not at all convinced that Don is right. What do you think?


Category: Branding | 418 Comments »